this is single.php and is for posts

Tonga Cloud First Policy

Framework approved by Cabinet decision no.298 in May 2022

To view the full policy in document format, please click below

Tonga Cloud First Policy – 2022

1. Policy statement

The Tonga Government is committed to modernizing government information and communication technologies (ICTs) in accordance with the strategy set by Tonga Digital Government Strategic Framework (TDGSF)  and will lead by example in using cloud computing services to reduce costs, increase security, increase productivity, and develop excellent citizen services.

The goals of the Cloud first approach are:

In order to achieve this, all government agencies of Tonga affected by this policy will evaluate cloud-based services when undertaking all ICT procurements. The decision on the appropriate ICT delivery model will be based on an assessment of each application, incorporating fitment of purpose, cost benefit analysis and achieving value for money over the life of the investment.

This document sets out general guiding principles for a “cloud first” approach for government ministries and agencies to consider in adopting cloud computing solutions as a primary part of their information technology planning and procurement.

1.1. Entities affected by this policy

This policy is applicable to all government entities with an exception of National Reserve Bank[1]  of Tonga  and entities primarily responsible for the national security and defense:

It is also highly recommended for commercially registered entities that are fully or partially owned by the Tonga government as well as the private sector to leverage this policy and create similar internal Cloud First policies for their respective organizations.

1.2. Who should read this policy

ICT leadership of all Ministries and Government Entities.

2. Overview of Cloud Computing

Government of Tonga adopts National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) definition for cloud computing[2]. The section below provides a short summary of the characteristics of the cloud systems as well as their service and deployment models.

2.1. Key characteristics

Cloud computing leverages several elements including scale, virtualization, resilience, cost efficiency, service orientation, agility, etc. These elements are combined under the NIST definition into five key characteristics:

2.2.  Service models

Software as a Service (SaaS): The capability provided to the consumer is to use the Cloud Service Provider’s (CSP’s) applications running on a cloud platform and infrastructure. The applications are accessible from various client devices through a thin client interface such as a web browser (e.g. web-based email). The consumer does not manage or control the underlying cloud platform and infrastructure including network, servers, operating systems, storage, or even individual application capabilities, with the possible exception of limited user-specific application configuration settings. Examples may include, but are not limited to:

Platform as a Service (PaaS): The capability provided to the consumer is to deploy onto the cloud infrastructure of the CSP consumer-created or acquired applications, these applications are created using programming languages and tools supported by the CSP. The consumer does not manage or control the underlying cloud infrastructure including network, servers, operating systems, or storage, but has control over the deployed applications and possibly application hosting environment configurations. Examples may include, but are not limited to:

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): The capability provided to the consumer is to provision processing, storage, networks and other fundamental computing resources. It’s up to the consumer to decide what software is deployed and operated, which can include operating systems and applications. The consumer does not manage or control the underlying cloud infrastructure but has control over operating systems, storage, deployed applications, and possibly limited control on select networking components (e.g. firewalls). Examples may include, but are not limited to:

Figure 1: Cloud computing service models

Depending on the selected service model, users of the Cloud services will outsource certain portions of the IT value chain to the CSP. Figure 1 provides an overview of the scope covered by each of the service models. For instance, in the Software as a Service (SaaS) model, the CSP will provide a software application targeted towards end-user software clients, available via Cloud. As part of this offering, the CSP will be covering the platform architecture layer which entails development of environments, database management systems, libraries, compilers and other testing tools needed to develop and implement the applications. Additionally, the CSP will be providing the physical infrastructure layer which typically includes the facility layer (heating, ventilation, air conditioning, power, etc.) and the hardware layer (servers, storage, network components, etc.) as well as the virtualized infrastructure layer which includes software elements (hypervisors, virtual machines, virtual data storage), used to realize the infrastructure upon which a Cloud computing platform can be established.

Similarly, the Platform as a Service (PaaS) model covers the platform architecture layers as well as the infrastructure layer, both the physical and the virtualized one. While for Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), the CSP will be providing the virtualized and the physical infrastructure layers.

2.3.  Deployment models

Cloud computing has three primary deployment models, with most of the countries adopting a composition of these three. Each of these deployment models can offer the different service models explained above, the main difference lies primarily in the level of control and ownership the CSP assumes versus the ownership of the user (consumer).

 Private cloudCommunity cloud (e.g. Government cloud)Public cloud
UsersUsed by a single organizationUsed by a community of consumersUsed by the general public
Operating modelOwned and operated by the organization itself, a third party or combination of bothOwned and operated by one or more organization of the community or a third partyOwned and operated by a business.
LocationMay exist on and off premisesMay exist on and off premisesExists on the premises of Cloud provider
SLA/UptimeNo guarantees, data redundancy is self-managedGuaranteed by provider, data redundancy is managed by providerGuaranteed by provider, data redundancy is managed by provider
TimelineLonger timelines due to deployment and testingFaster timeline, plug and play modelFaster timeline, plug and play model

Private Cloud: The cloud infrastructure is provisioned for exclusive use by a single organization, comprising multiple users (e.g. business units). It may be owned, managed, and operated by the organization, a third party (e.g. a CSP), or a combination of these. The physical location may be on or off premise. There are no guarantees on SLAs/Uptime and data redundancy is managed by the entity itself. Solutions development on private Clouds typically consume more time as all the deployment and testing needs to be done in-house.

Common examples of a private Cloud for the Governmental sector are the entity’s own Clouds, that are typically serving the entity or an exclusive collection of entities.

Community Cloud: The cloud infrastructure is provisioned for exclusive use by a specific community of consumers from organizations that have shared/aligned interests (e.g., mission, cyber security requirements, policy, and compliance considerations). It may be owned, managed, and operated by one or more of the organizations in the community, a third party, or a combination of these. The physical location may be on or off premise. The SLAs/Uptime are guaranteed by the service provider and the data redundancy is managed by the provider as well. This model offers a “plug and play” model which allows for faster timelines for deployment of new solutions.

A common form of community Cloud for the Public sector is a Government-owned community Cloud, which is often cited as “G-Cloud” or “Gov-Cloud”. This is a Cloud typically fully owned by a Government, and provisioned for the exclusive use of Governmental entities. Operations for this Cloud could be done by a Governmental entity, a third party (e.g. a CSP) or a combination of these. It is typically located inside the country, mainly to protect data sovereignty.

Public Cloud: The cloud infrastructure is provisioned for open use by a variety of entities. It may be owned, managed, and operated by a business, academic, or government organization, or a combination of these. It exists on the premises of the cloud provider. Public Cloud is typically served by global players (e.g. AWS, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure) as well as by local players (e.g. local telecom and ICT players). The SLAs/Uptime are guaranteed by the service provider and the data redundancy is managed by the provider as well. This model offers a “plug and play” model which allows for faster timelines for deployment of new solutions.

Hybrid Cloud: The cloud infrastructure is a composition of two or more distinct cloud infrastructures (private, community, or public) that remain unique entities, but are bound together by standardized or proprietary technology that enables data and application portability (e.g. cloud bursting for load balancing between clouds). A multi-Cloud approach, a similar model, is a composition of two or more distinct cloud infrastructures but without necessarily connectivity or orchestration between them. Such an approach is globally endorsed.

3.  Introduction to Cloud First Policy

A Cloud First Policy is a policy meant to define and typically stimulate Public sector migration from traditional IT solutions to Cloud-based models.

3.1. How Cloud computing helps public sector

Globally, multiple Governments have been adopting Cloud computing. This is mainly to benefit from advantages Cloud computing bears, particularly in terms of efficiency improvements, enhanced agility, reliability of services, more robust cyber security and increased innovation.

Efficiency improvement: In its essence, Cloud computing is about resource pooling and sharing across different applications and entities, leading to an increased utilization of the assets. This increase in utilization means that more value is derived from the assets, which optimizes the current state and reduces the need for future capacity expansions, which translates into cost effectiveness.

Migration of infrastructure to Cloud typically results in ~30% savings in terms of total cost of ownership. Additionally, Cloud computing serves as a catalyst which can accelerate the implementation of Data Center Consolidation initiatives. Similar efficiencies can be seen in applications and platforms, particularly when taking the aggregation of demand that will occur into consideration. This aggregation helps streamline the demand, removes duplications and realizes synergies from scale. In summary, Cloud computing will help entities to shift focus from technology itself to higher-value activities.

Enhanced agility and reliability: By leveraging scalability of Cloud computing, entities are typically able to improve services’ responsiveness, particularly in cases of fluctuating demand. Unlike traditional IT which is typically built upon a fixed capacity against a forecasted demand, Cloud solutions offer the users the flexibility to scale up and scale down depending on the demand, which improves the overall user experience with minimal additional investments required while minimizing the service disruptions and outages that could occur. Additionally, Cloud computing – through its dynamic and streamlined approach – will help end users improve the overall time to market. For example, while traditional IT solutions would typically require an elongated period to take care of the development, integration, testing and implementation, a commercially available Cloud solution typically serves the same purpose with a “plug and play” approach. Cloud computing provides a more interoperable and portable environment for data and systems that would help achieve seamless communication between the different entities.

More robust cyber security: Beyond achieving a more efficient, innovative and agile environment, Cloud computing helps to improve overall cyber security. By following best-in-class cyber security protocols in the network communication, Cloud services typically offer a high level of cyber security that is difficult to be attained by Governmental entities themselves. In fact, leading Cloud Service Providers have shown to invest significantly into cyber security-related R&D activities.

Increased innovation: Cloud computing is by nature a driver of innovation for the whole ecosystem. This innovation covers the primary scope of Cloud solutions (infrastructure, platform, software) and is an enabler to transform the way Governmental entities deploy services.

For example, Cloud has already helped transform several private sectors (the way we order a cab, the way we order food, communication with other people, meetings, etc.), all are now online and available anytime anywhere with a simple connection to the internet. It is inevitable that this knowledge and past successful experiences of Cloud computing will be transferred into Governmental processes. In fact, because of limited initial investment required, Cloud computing helps Governmental entities adopt the “start small” entrepreneurial approach to investments, which in turn means more willingness to deploy innovative solutions without having to go through several rounds of budget approvals.

Cloud computing will help rationalize Government IT spend. Entities are now facing major challenges when it comes to procuring IT services (e.g. long procurement cycles). Cloud computing will help reduce the time to market significantly through streamlining the procurement process and adopting a “marketplace” for Cloud services.

In the current set-up, the individual Governmental entities have a responsibility regarding cybersecurity. On the contrary, cloud computing will enable a more coherent and robust cyber security framework through adopting best practices in cyber security across Governmental entities, in which the responsibility of the cybersecurity will be shared between the customers and the CSPs.

3.2.  Implementation of the Cloud First Policy and its benefits

A Cloud First Policy is a policy that covers Governmental entities and aims at accelerating the deployment of Cloud computing services of these entities when making new IT investment decisions. This objective is achieved by mandating these entities to consider Cloud options every time a new IT investment decision is made, in line with the policy guidelines, processes and governance as defined in the Cloud First Policy. The purpose of the policy is to improve efficiency and effectiveness and minimize Total Cost of Ownership of Governmental entities, while enhancing cyber security of information by adopting the right Cloud model for each goal (in line with the data classification laws, policies and regulations of the Government and other relevant regulations). It also enables interoperability and hence improved communication between participating entities.

3.3. Considerations for the Cloud First Policy

Potential government investments in Cloud computing for the public sector should be evaluated on a case by case basis. Each case should be assessed from 1) a cybersecurity perspective to make sure it satisfies the national cyber security requirements, 2) a technical perspective to ensure its technical viability and 3) a commercial perspective to ensure it represents the most cost-efficient solution available.

A Government Cloud Service Provider is a government owned community cloud (G-Cloud). A Commercial Governmental Cloud Service Provider is any commercial cloud provider (global or local) that meets the cybersecurity requirements to host non-sensitive or open data.

Security perspective

When considering migration to Cloud services, security is a key aspect for evaluation and is governed by regulations and laws issued by Tonga. Therefore, the policy mainly takes into account the input of data security and protection and builds upon it the decision-making tree for the policy. All  security regulations and frameworks must be reviewed when designing or implementing any cloud solutions to ensure their compliance with security controls and requirements. Existing and drafted regulations and frameworks:

Technical perspective

Another aspect that should be considered when migrating to Cloud is its technical viability. For example, solutions that are highly sensitive to latency may be better off hosted locally on premise, especially when the Cloud services solutions don’t present the same technical features.

Commercial perspective

Cloud computing has significant potential in terms of economic benefits to the migrating entities. However, the economic aspect (quantified by the Total Cost of Ownership) needs to be assessed on a case-by-case basis. For example, applications that are highly customized and specific to the end-user may at times be more expensive to migrate to Cloud compared to the ‘as-is’ situation. In summary, every case should be treated separately and should be rigorously evaluated as such, based on the three dimensions highlighted above.